More than two-thirds of the Football League’s 72 clubs voted in favour of a motion to explore safe standing trials at their annual general meeting in Portugal on Friday 7th June.
An unnamed club Chief Executive told The Independent’s Robin Scott-Elliot that the motion had “the will of the people” and he expected the Football League to start “lobbying in the right places”.
This follows last month’s news that Championship clubs had voted to back safe standing trials. 21 out of 22 Chief Executives present voted in favour of a motion to “encourage and support the instigation of a rail seat/safe-standing trial period at any League club”.
Friday’s vote sends a clear message to the Board – the majority of Football League clubs back the exploration of safe standing trials and the Board has a mandate to implement that.
In addition to this six Premier League clubs officially back the Football Supporters’ Federation’s Safe Standing Campaign – Aston Villa, Cardiff City, Crystal Palace, Hull City, Sunderland, and Swansea City.
The Scottish Premier League are longtime backers of safe standing while West Ham United’s David Gold has also given his support in an interview with e-fanzine Blowing Bubbles.
“Safe standing in football stadiums will happen. I promise you it will happen. I’d be stunned if we don’t have some sort of safe standing experiment soon,” said Gold.
“I think, in five years, we will see safe standing at football stadiums because, let’s face it, it’s not very expensive to install and it’s safe, very safe.”
Last year the FSF asked fans to contact their MPs in support of Early Day Motion 573 which called for safe standing trials in football stadiums.
Many MPs backed the fans’ choice but some who opposed safe standing cited the Minister for Sport’s view that there was “no appetite to change the current policy” from the football authorities and clubs in the UK.
With the Football League, Scottish Premier League and one in every three Premier League clubs now backing safe standing trials (or their exploration), that argument looks increasingly shaky.
Disagree with safe standing? Opponents’ arguments are often based on misconceptions - the most common being that Hillsborough was caused by standing (it wasn’t), that we want to ban seats (we don’t) or that it’s not right for their club (fine, but why stop others?). Read more at the FSF’s Safe Standing Mythbusters.
Main image - Bob Symns (Chief Executive, Peterborough United - middle row, centre) and representatives of Peterborough City Council with Jon Darch (Safe Standing Roadshow) and Hannover 96 staff among rail seats in the AWD Arena (Germany).